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Past Articles Library | Plant Diseases & Control | Camellia Flower Blight


(Ciborinia camelliae)

The plant disease Camellia Flower Blight, is caused by the fungus Ciborinia camelliae, one of the largest class of fungi, containing about 30,000 species. Camellia Flower Blight will cause flowers to turn brown and rot.



Brown lesions develop, with centers discoloring first. Flowers drop permaturely, petal veins will turn darker brown than surrounding tissue. Camellia petal blight is a fungal disease promoted by rainy, or moist weather.




Fungal masses form on the dead and fallen Camellia blossoms. If the infected flower heads are left on the ground they will decompose, becoming the fungi's passage into the soil. Once in the soil, the fungi can survive for three to four years. The fungi begin to emerge from dormancy when weather conditions are warm and moist. You can see mushroom like structures arise from the over-wintering fungi. They release millions of microscopic spores wich are carried by the wind to emerging and opening flowers. The spores germinate if moisture is present and if conducive temperatures (59-70 degrees F or 15-21 degrees C) are provided. When these conditions are met, infection occurs, and the blighted flower symptoms begin to appear. As the fungi progresses, the flowers fall to the ground only to start the cycle once again.



Most of the 3,000 named Camellia species and cultivars are affected.



Small irregular tan or brown dead spots on the Camellia petals are the first symptom to appear when the plant is infected. These necrotic spots enlarge toward the base of the bloom. The rotted flowers become heavy and fall to the soil surface. Examine the fallen flower heads for small, hard black bodies called sclerotia. Another sign of the fungus is saucer shaped mushroom like structures called apothecia.




Controlling Camellia Flower Blight really has two parts: (1) prevention and (2) managing the disease once the infection has occurred in the garden.

Prevention: Keep the introduction of the fungus into a new area by planting clean Camellia stock. This can be accomplished by removing all debris. Plant bare-root Camellias with no blooms on the plant.

Managing: requires consistent measures. Watch carefully for any signs of the disease. Keep the area under the bushes clear of vegetation, leaf litter, and debris, also cut back low branches on the bush. This increases air circulation and reduces favorable environments for the fungus.

Pull off the infected blossoms and get rid of them, but do not put them in the compost pile! The fungi will continue to survive in the compost and could be spread to new uninfected areas.

Cover the soil beneath the plants with 4 inches of organic mulch to reduce spore survival. By eliminating or reducing the amount of fungal spores that are released into the wind current, the chance of infection is dramatically reduced.

Avoid overhead irrigation.

Organic Products: Spray neem oil on both the ground and on the plant itself.

Chemical Products: Spray synthetic fungicides on both the ground and on the plant itself.


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